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How can I create a BLN file?

There are a number of ways to create a BLN file. A BLN file contains the XY coordinates to describe points,
polylines and/or polygons.

1. If you know the coordinates for the objects you want to describe in the BLN file, you can use any text editor
program (ie. Notepad, WordPad, Excel, the Surfer worksheet, etc) to enter the XY coordinate data and save as a
BLN file.

A BLN file consists of a 1-line header followed by a list of XY coordinates. The header contains the number
of points and then a 1 or a 0 (the blanking flag number). If you are using the file for blanking purposes, a 1
means to blank inside the boundary and a 0 means to blank outside the boundary. If you are not using the
BLN file for blanking, then it doesnt matter if you have a 1 or a 0.

If you are describing a polygon, make sure the first and last set of coordinates are exactly the same.
Otherwise, it will be a polyline.

For example, to describe a square:

5, 0 <--one line header. There are 5 following sets of coordinates,

and a 0 to indicate to blank inside the polygon.
0,0 <--first set of XY coordinates in the boundary.
0,0 <--last set of coordinates in the boundary. They are the same as the first set to indicate a

Enter the information in the text editing program and save to a BLN file. If using Notepad or WordPad, you
can simply save to filename.bln. In the Surfer worksheet, you can use File | Save As and save to a BLN file.

2. If you do not know the coordinates for the boundary, but you can visually pick them off a map in Surfer, then you
can digitize them. To do this:
1. Create the map in Surfer
2. Right click over the map and go to Digitize. Your cursor will turn into a cross hair.
3. Click on the first point. The coordinates of that point will be entered in a text window that appears
(called digit.bln).
4. Digitize all around the boundary in order, either clockwise or counterclockwise or along the polyline. If
you are digitizing multiple objects, separate the ending of one object and the beginning of the other
with an extra blank row between the coordinates in the digit.bln window.
5. Once you are done digitizing the data, go to File | Save As in the digit.bln window and save to a BLN

3. You can save an existing vector file (ie. DXF, SHP, MIF, etc) in the BLN format. To do this, load the file as a
base map (Map | Base Map), turn off the axes in the Object Manager, and use File | Export to export to a BLN file.
Open the BLN file in the Surfer worksheet to be sure the BLN flag value is what you want it to be (cell B1, either a
0 to blank outside the boundary, or a 1 to blank inside the boundary).

4. If you have multiple data areas, you can include one object after another in the BLN file. For example:

5,0 <--beginning of first object, a square polygon

3,0 <--beginning of second object, a 3-pt polyline

1 of 2 17/05/2009 4:39
Print Question - How can I create a BLN file?


If you want to use the BLN file for blanking, and wish to blank inside the polygons, be sure to use a 1 for the
blanking flag value.

If you want to use the BLN file for blanking, and wish to blank outside the polygons, you will need to create a single
polygon from the multiple areas in the BLN file. For instructions on how to do this, see: I want to blank outside several
polygons on a map, but the entire map gets blanked, resulting in a horizontal planar grid.

See also: How do I create a BLN file to display multiple polylines?

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